Tasked with shaping the buildings of tomorrow, the Sustainable Buildings Research Centre (SBRC) had to quite literally ‘live’ its own brief. Located on the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Campus, the building was designed and built with a range of industrial partners, including BlueScope. The SBRC not only embodies sustainable design, it is a ‘living laboratory’ that aims to improve building materials, design and operation. A place where researchers and students develop, prototype and test sustainable building technologies and tools for residential and commercial applications.
Already a ‘Green Star 6-star’ building, the challenging brief was made tougher by the decision to seek certification with arguably the world’s most demanding sustainability rating, the Living Building Challenge (LBC), which encourages buildings to be net zero energy and water, to connect more readily with the natural environment, and provide comfortable and restorative places to live and work.
As a ‘living laboratory’, the SRBC’s ‘high-bay’ roof is divided into two discrete sections using COLORBOND® steel in the colour Surfmist® and COLORBOND® Coolmax® steel, enabling their performance as cool roof materials to be better understood and compared. These materials were chosen for their high solar reflectance (low solar absorptance) and high thermal emittance, resulting in the potential to help improve the thermal performance of a building*.
The ‘energy’ category of the LBC assesses embodied carbon footprint, so the use of steel throughout the project was carefully scrutinised. The architects specified slender, high-strength structural steel for the building’s frame and lightweight steel cladding for roofing and some upper-level walls. The building also met the high standards demanded by the waste requirements of the LBC, with BlueScope materials being manufactured locally and incorporating recycled content. BlueScope is also committed to responsible and sustainable sourcing practices that create, protect and build long term environmental, social and economic value – all key sustainability and responsibility measures.